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Oil's slide pulls stocks into a skid

Traders work on the floor of the New

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, March 18, 2015, on Wall Street. Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

Another drop in oil prices helped drive the stock market to a loss on Thursday, as major indexes gave up their gains from the day before. Chevron, Exxon Mobil and other energy companies led stocks down.

Benchmark U.S. oil sank 70 cents to close at $43.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, extending a slump that has slashed prices by more than half over the past year.

At the close on Wall Street, The Standard & Poor's 500 was down 10.23 points, or about 0.5 percent, at 2,089.27. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 117.2 points, or nearly 0.7 percent, to 17,959. The Nasdaq composite gained 9.55 points, or about 0.2 percent, to 4,992.4.

"Given the big drop that we've had the big question is, when does oil hit bottom?" said analyst Jeff Carbone, a senior partner at Cornerstone Financial Partners in Charlotte, North Carolina. "I don't think oil will bottom out until a company or a country flinches and cuts production. Right now producers are still pumping as much as they can."

It was Apple's first day as a member of the Dow Jones industrial average, as the maker of iPhones, iPads and other gadgets replaced AT&T. Goldman Sachs also took Visa's title as the most expensive stock among the blue chips. Because the Dow weighs its 30 companies by their share price instead of their market value, a stock split for Visa pushed the payment processor off its perch.

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